Friday, February 24, 2012

Staying Fresh with Durham Farmers' Market

Each week, the Durham Farmers' Market's farmers come with their trucks filled with beautiful vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses, flowers, you name it. All of the farmers aim to bring the freshest food possible. Because we see them for such a short time during the week, it can be hard to remember how much work it takes to get ready for a market day. 

The day before Market is often a long one. Fresh vegetables can be the most labor intensive and difficult to bring to Market. As soon as a vegetable is plucked from the field, it begins to deteriorate. Post-harvest handling and care is critical to preserve the freshness, flavor, and nutrients in the vegetables that you see and buy at the Market. Our farmers' chief concern in post harvest handling is to keep the product cool, minimize moisture loss and bruising. Because of their hard work to transport the vegetables from the field to the Market, the Market is filled with fresh, tasty vegetables each week. 

Here are a few tips to help you preserve the freshness and flavor of the vegetables when you bring them from the Market into your home.

Greens, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts: Store in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag. Putting these greens directly into the fridge can cause them to get limp and tasteless. Putting them in a plastic bag helps them to retain moisture and flavor.

Beets, Carrots, Radishes, Rutabagas, Turnips: When you get home, cut off their leafy greens, make sure they are clean and store them in a closed plastic bag in the refrigerator. Leaving the greens on can cause them to get limp and lose their sweetness. Beet greens, turnip greens and radish greens are all edible (and tasty), so don't throw them away! Store them just like other greens.

Cilantro and Parsley: Snip the bottom of the stems off and make sure the leaves are dry. Fill a jar with an inch or two of water and place the stem ends in the water. Loosely cover with a plastic bag and store in the fridge.

Shiitake Mushrooms: Store in a paper bag. Fold the top of the bag over and store in the fridge.  Storing mushrooms in plastic isn't a good idea because moisture will cause them to deteriorate very quickly.

Green Onions & Green Garlic: Snip the roots off and store in a plastic bag in the fridge. A farmers shared last week that leaving the roots on can draw moisture out of the onion causing them to go limp.

Tomatoes: DON'T STORE IN THE FRIDGE!  Refrigeration causes damage to the membranes of the fruit walls, causing them to become mealy and tasteless. Tomatoes are best stored at room temperature on the counter.

Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Winter Squash: Store in a cool dark place like in a paper bag in the coolest cabinet in my kitchen - not the fridge.

Fresh this Week....
Vegetables:   RHUBARB, GREEN GARLIC, BRUSSELS SPROUTS, Asian Greens, Arugula, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, Cress, Cilantro, Collards, Dried Herbs, Frisee, Fennel, Green Onions,  Gourds,  Jerusalem Artichokes,  Mustard Greens, Kale,  Lettuce, Greenhouse Grown Peppers, Pumpkins, Radishes, Salad Mix, Shiitake Mushrooms  (fresh & dried), Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Greenhouse Grown Tomatoes, Turnips, Turnip Greens,
Meats:  Beef, Bison, Chicken, Duck, Goat/Chevon, Lamb, Pork.  Look for whole cuts, sausages, hot dogs, jerky, liver pate and more!
Flowers & Plants:  Daffodils, Tulips, Anemones, Icelandic Poppies
And: Honey, Pecans, Chicken and Duck Eggs, Flour, Cornmeal, Wines, Fresh and Aged Goats and Cows Milk Cheeses, Baked Goods - Pies, Breads, Cookies, Pastries, Gluten Free Items, etc; Beer, Wine, Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Preserves
Crafts: Pottery, Jewelry, Gourd Birdhouses, Woodwork, Photographs, Hand-dyed Clothing and other items, Handmade Clothing, Soaps and much more...

Produce availability depends on weather conditions

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